Wednesday, November 25, 2015

A&T's Robinson Announces Latest Recruiting Class

GREENSBORO, North Carolina -- The women’s basketball program at North Carolina A&T has earned the reputation of being one of the best teams in the Mid-Eastern Athletic Conference and one of the best mid-majors in America. In the MEAC, the Aggies have finished lower than second just twice in the last nine years and below third just once in the same time period.

Five of those players who have helped the Aggies further that tradition under fourth-year head coach Tarrell Robison will leave after this season, therefore Robinson and his staff wasted no time in bringing in new players to take the program to even higher levels. The Aggies singed five players during the early signing period. It is a diverse class that includes a forward, shooting guard, center, combo guard and point guard.

Le’on Hill (6-foot-2, F, Columbia, S.C., Keenan HS), Kiara Harrison (5-10, G, Greensboro, N.C., Dudley HS), Alexus “Shugg” Lessears (6-5, C, Cleveland, Ohio, Shaw HS), Cinia McCray (5-9, G, Maywood, Ill., Proviso East HS) and Shantell Bostick (5-7, G, Cleveland, Ohio, New Tech East HS) makes up N.C. A&T’s recruiting class. “I would like to congratulate my staff and current players for the excellent job they did this year with securing one of the most talented and academically-gifted classes we’ve had in my tenure as head coach at this university,” said Robinson.

Hill averaged 8.0 points, 7.0 rebounds and 5.0 blocks as a junior under head coach Reggie McLain. She was second in the state of South Carolina in blocked shots, and her AAU team is IDreams. Robinson foresees Hill as a do-it-all defender while the staff develops her into a small forward. Hill can play both forward positions and enjoys playing defense.



“What more can a coach ask for in an athlete?” asked Robinson. “She’s also an excellent student. Le’on will give us added length and athleticism on the interior and the perimeter next year. I envision her being on the top of all our single front presses and zones. She will also be someone ideally we see becoming a defensive stopper for us.”

Harrison is putting up some impressive numbers at nearby Dudley High School, where she averaged 14.0 points, 8.9 rebounds, 3.7 steals and 1.7 blocks per game under head coach Frank McNeil last season. Harrison is member of the Greensboro Galaxy AAU team. Robinson said she can play all three perimeter positions with a smooth handle and court vision to go with it.

“It’s always great to keep local talent home,” said Robinson. “In Kiara’s situation, we not only kept the local talent home, we also lured one of the best players in the state of North Carolina to Aggieland. As she continues to get stronger in terms of her strength, her ceiling is very high. She too is a scholar athlete.”

Lessears looks to follow behind some of the outstanding bigs the Aggies have had in the program lately. She averaged 13.0 points, 10.6 rebounds and 2.3 steals under head coach Dana Jeter in Ohio. TNBA is Lessears’ AAU team. Lessears has a chance to be the replacement for two-time All-MEAC center Aprill McRae. Robison wanted Lessears from Day 1.

“That makes signing Shugg so special,” said Robinson. “We knew we had to recruit someone of equal ability to impact the game as Aprill has done during her career.”

She chose the Aggies over numerous BCS level institutions. She is known for being a dominating inside presence on both ends. Like the other Aggie signees, she loves to play defense, but she has an unbelievable ability to rebound and block shots.


2015 SWAC Football Championship -- Dec. 5

Bayou Classic: Dawson Odums, Broderick Fobbs play up the Southern-Grambling rivalry

NEW ORLEANS -- The Bayou Classic rivalry is alive and well.

It’s not that the rivalry between Southern and Grambling ever faded, but both football programs did experience hard times in the recent past.

That was before Dawson Odums’ promotion to Jaguars head coach two games into the 2012 season and Broderick Fobbs’ hiring as Tigers coach in the wake of a disastrous 2013 season triggered a resurgence in both programs.

Bayou Classic
Who: Southern vs. Grambling
When: 4 p.m. Saturday
Where: Mercedes-Benz Superdome
TV: NBC Sports Network
Radio: KQXL-FM, 106.5

And for good measure, both coaches threw a little good-natured trash talking into the mix during a news conference Tuesday to promote Saturday’s 42nd edition of the Bayou Classic in the Mercedes-Benz Superdome.

In his remarks from the podium in the Bienville Room, Fobbs called what the Tigers have accomplished on and off the field this season “stellar.”


Southern tops Dillard

BATON ROUGE, Louisiana -- Tuesday night wasn’t another milestone win against a major conference opponent, but it was a win, and that’s all that matters for Southern.

After coming out on top against Mississippi State and Tulane last week, the Jaguars cruised to a 79-65 victory over NAIA member Dillard at home, extending their win streak to three games.

“We worked thorough it tonight,” Southern coach Roman Banks said. “I was concerned about getting out there and have them thinking they were just going to wash this team, and this team is actually a pretty good basketball team.”

Dillard came out in a zone defense all night, which forced Southern into shooting more from the outside.

The Jaguars shot more from behind the 3-point line in the first half of Tuesday night’s outing (20) than it had in any full game this season.

Southern finished the half shooting 25 percent from 3-point territory, led by guards Trelun Banks and Adrian Rodgers with a pair of field goals beyond the arc each.


4-0: AAMU Bulldogs hold off Jacksonville State

JACKSONVILLE, Alabama -- The Bulldogs held off a furious comeback attempt by Jacksonville State to take a 73-69 win over the Gamecocks on Tuesday.

It was the fourth straight win for the Bulldogs to open the season.

Ladarius Tabb has 26 points and Nick West and Rakiya Battle each scored 13. Adrian Edwards scored 8 points and pulled down 10 rebounds.

The Bulldogs had a 41-35 lead at the half and went on a 11-2 run for a 52-37 lead with just under 15 minutes left in the game.

But over the next 8 1/2 minutes, the Gamecocks grabbed the momentum as they outscored A&M 23-8 to tie the score at 60-all.

The Bulldogs battled back to hold leads of two and three points until the two teams were tied at 67-67 with just 56 seconds to play.

Battle then took over, hitting a layup, getting fouled and converting the and-one for a 70-67 lead. The junior guard made three of four free throws in the final 12 seconds to secure the win.

The Bulldogs return to action Saturday when they visit Murray State. Tipoff is 7 p.m.



Tuesday, November 24, 2015

Ram Ramblings: Championships the norm this fall at WSSU

WINSTON-SALEM, North Carolina -- It’s kind of funny how athletes at WSSU are afraid to say something to me that might come back to haunt them.

For instance, it’s hard to get a football player to brag about the accomplishments of coming out of nowhere to win the CIAA title. But when it comes to Twitter those shy athletes become bolder and bolder in their proclamations.

Take Will Johnson, the All-CIAA punter/kicker who made the game-winning field goal in the title game against Bowie State on the last play of the game. I’ve known Johnson for three years now and he’s polite during interviews and isn’t about to say anything that might end up as bulletin board material.

Soon after the CIAA volleyball team won its first conference title in that sport on Sunday Johnson couldn’t help himself. On Twitter he proclaimed that WSSU runs the CIAA.


Big wins, two close conference losses tell the story of 2015 S.C. State Bulldogs football season

ORANGEBURG, South Carolina -- It was quite the odd and interesting season for the South Carolina State football team.

They started the season in a sprint, playing three games in 12 days, before having a bye week and then running through three games in 15 days.

Outscoring their final two opponents by a combined tally of 69-39 in back-to-back road games didn’t make up for the Bulldogs dropping a 9-6 home game to North Carolina A&T the first week of November. A win against the Aggies would have given them a share of the Mid-Eastern Athletic Conference Championship.

That opportunity left, but those final two wins did make it a winning season with a 7-4 overall record and a 6-2 record in MEAC play.

“It’s sad, but it’s true,” SCSU head football coach Buddy Pough said in his season-ending press conference on Monday. “We’re done and the 2015 season is behind us.

“We’ve been somewhat successful, but I wish we’d done more.”